Letting The Monsters In

 

Gutted m8

Gutted m8

“This does not fucking slip now. This does not fucking slip now. Listen. Listen. This is gone. We go to Norwich. Exactly the same. We go again. Come on!” – Steven Gerrard, April 13, 2014

Within weeks of this rousing team-talk, Liverpool’s unlikely Premier League title bid had collapsed with the sad majesty of a dynamited building. Their captain will feel the pain more than most, given his unfortunate contribution to the capitulation. While his ironic slip against Chelsea was seized upon in a frenzy of tweeted GIFs, perhaps the real moment the title went astray was when Gerrard gave that team talk in front of Sky’s television cameras.

It was not so much their victory against Manchester City as the reaction that proved the turning point, and provided the season with its biggest story, the definable moment upon which memories of ten months will hang. Prior to that victory anyone associated with the club kept the rubicon at arm’s length. The unthinkable could not be thought, lest fate be tempted. There was a notable silence to Liverpool’s implausible quest, a refusal to acknowledge the magnitude.

But then came the change, the moment when the doors were opened to the twin monsters of pressure and fear. With just four games left, Liverpool were officially challenging for the most improbable of league titles, and it was just too much, too late. Gerrard’s speech was too vast, rousing far too much rabble, finally granting permission to a straining support to believe at last. Liverpool fans draped a banner on the wall of the club’s Melwood training ground, exhorting the mantra: WE GO AGAIN. Opportunistic vendors flogged premature celebratory t-shirts proclaiming Liverpool league champions. Alan Hansen spoke with misguided certainty on Match of the Day of “when Steven Gerrard lifts the trophy”.

After that speech, they played with restraint, on edge and anxious. They made hard work of a routine win away at Norwich before Gerrard’s most literal and figurative of slips against Chelsea. Allowing Crystal Palace to fight back from a three-goal deficit was the ultimate shat bed, the warring concepts of living and dying by the sword bludgeoning each other beyond recognition. What was left was the bones of a dream, a sobbing Luis Suarez hiding his face away from a camera that his captain tried to palm away. The season should have ended there, cutting to black at the sight of Gerrard’s hollowed face, a haunted physiognomy in emotional stasis, like Tony Soprano looking up from the menu one last time, leaving us to wonder what might happen next.

Instead, we’ve witnessed Gerrard’s address confirming its place as the most stirring moment of football oration since Kevin Keegan declared that “I’d love it if we beat them”. Ultimately doomed, the Newcastle United manager’s cry to rally the troops was to be remodelled by history’s winking eye as a harbinger of failure yet to unravel. Just as Keegan’s on-air meltdown has become an unwelcome monument to his career, so too might Gerrard become synonymous with an outburst of passion that subsequent events failed to validate. Gerrard will surely be remembered for more than just the portentous grandstanding of his post-City speech, but then Keegan was named European Footballer of the Year twice – ask your kids what they know of him.

What does the future hold for Gerrard? Will a Vine of his Chelsea stumble play out on his iTombstone, in an endless, macabre loop? Perhaps, decades from now, he will emulate Keegan further by quitting the England management post in a Wembley toilet. For now, the only thing to do would be to realise that he’s cradled such magnitude before. The trio of cup final victories one honeyed season under Gerard Houllier. The ‘Gerrard final’ FA Cup win against West Ham. The Miracle of Istanbul. These are memories to keep him warm, as he wrestles with the implausibility of how he came so close to pulling one more rabbit from the hat before it scampered off, leaving him floundering in a puddle of tears and schadenfreude on the Anfield turf.

This coming season more will be expected of the late-career quarterback renaissance, but surely he cannot give more than he gave last term? An Indian summer was coaxed from him by the promise of untold bounties. The hope of an elusive league title to round off a fine playing career, still addled by the asterisk denoting the one glaring omission from the honours list. He has already expressed his belief that he has at least one more season playing at such a level, and has retired from international football to allow himself more recovery time between games. But this time around will be different. Chelsea are rebuilding, Manchester United are getting their act together with a manager that fits, Arsenal are tooling up big in the transfer market. Gerrard, among others, helped Liverpool fans dream, but it may yet take a while to seize a similar chance again, especially with Suarez now gone.

Gerrard’s speech will be remembered as another example of sport’s natural drama being augmented by the bombast of narrative. Sky Sports will see to it that it is hailed as another contribution to history, the latest victory for the pervasive influence of the television camera. The same as the one Gerrard once kissed in triumph, the same as the one he turned away with a rueful, protective hand. The camera used to love him, but sometimes love, like all things, can die. Somehow, the story of last season came from the story that did not happen.

The Incomplete Panini Album World Cup Preview

The 2014 World Cup is advancing menacingly, like a drunken tramp approaching to bellow songs into a traffic cone in exchange for money. There is only one place that can deliver the sort of preview that can justify the hype, and you’re looking right at it, mister. If you thought you were already excited about the mere prospect of Brazil, then think again. Only after reading this will you be correctly prepared for what’s to come, you absolute moron.

"There are three names in this envelope…"

“There are three names in this envelope…”

Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed prides itself on the depth and quality of its research. With that in mind, our groundbreaking preview of the forthcoming World Cup has been compiled using the finest factual resource available to man – a half-complete Panini sticker album. Gasp in sickening wonder as we look at the dramatis personae that look set to make this summer one of the World Cuppiest of the modern age.

photo 1

Here is just some of the high-flying action we can expect to see in Rio. In this scintillating picture, we can see the legendary Panini Man failing to make contact with a rudimentary overhead kick. This lack of accuracy is why he currently finds himself without a club.

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Best get a move on, lads.

When journalists began to circulate rumours that some of the World Cup stadia were only half-finished, they weren’t joking. Panini have not produced the left-sided stickers for these two grounds as they will not be built in time for the tournament. As it became apparent to FIFA that construction workers would not have enough time to build complete stadia, they were instructed to build only one half, in order for Panini to circulate at least half of the stadium stickers. Numbers 8 and 12 simply do not exist, as the Estadio Mineirao and Arena Pantanal have only had their right-sides built. FIFA plans on keeping up the ruse throughout the tournament with a combination of green-screen technology and having players swap the partings in their hair to the opposite side for the second-half of matches, to create the illusion that the teams have swapped ends when they haven’t, because their is only one end. Sure to cause discussion in the pubs this summer!

BRAZIL

Old bastards,

Old bastards

Host nation Brazil has a lot to live up to, as they look to overcome the handicap of having several players named after very old men. This follows an earlier controversy when fans angrily protested the inclusion of Oscar, Bernard and Fred in the squad, at the expense of erstwhile seleção favourites such as Compo, Clegg and Nora Batty.

CROATIA

"AAAAGGGGHHHH!!"

“AAAAGGGGHHHH!!”

OGNJEN VUKOJEVIC HAS ARRIVED TO EAT YOUR FAMILY WHOLE. Possible dark horses?

CAMEROON

Not seeing eye-to-eye.

Not seeing eye-to-eye.

No World Cup is complete without one team falling apart because they’re all twats and can’t get a long for a few weeks. That team is likely to be Cameroon. Observe how Joel Matip looks with barely-concealed scorn at the crazed hair of Benoit Assou-Ekotto. A certain sign that trouble is a-brewin’.

SPAIN

GBOL

GBOL

By contrast, Spain’s team spirit is at an all-time high, touching each other’s knees in their team photograph. Every relationship needs its moments of tenderness in order to thrive. Expect Spain to do well, if not by winning the tournament, then perhaps by getting matching tattoos or buying each other eternity rings.

HOLLAND

The Dutch will be at a notable handicap, after harsh sanctions handed down from FIFA. Oranje hardman Nigel De Jong has been told quite specifically that he is not allowed to boot people in the chest like an angry bailiff kicking in some slag’s door. Elsewhere in the squad, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is a major injury doubt, as the lower half of his face continues to taper off dangerously. It is expected that his entire mouth may disappear prior to Holland’s opening game against Spain.

Tiny gob.

Tiny gob.

URUGUAY

For Uruguay, much depends on the happiness of mercurial gobshite Luis Suarez. Here we can see that he is deeply unhappy at being told by the Panini photographer that his ears somehow look even more stupid for being pinned back. A dark omen perhaps?

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U R GAY

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica’s preparations have been hit by the unwelcome drama surrounding key player Roy Miller, who was recently told by FIFA that he needs to return his name to the name shop, as it “doesn’t sound Costa Rican enough”. Here we see the beleaguered chap just moments before being nabbed by the authorities.

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Lookin’ tense

ENGLAND

There have been concerns that England’s pasty-white players will wilt in the Brazilian heat, and it would appear these fears, much like your nan’s dead face at her funeral, are not without foundation. Frank Lampard’s sticker depicts the Chelsea semi-orphan melting like a crap ice cream. A Mini-Milk or some such.

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Picture of a pile of Lampard-shaped goop.

ECUADOR

The team affectionately known as ‘The Norwich City of South America’ will struggle, after the squad staged a training camp walk-out in protest after Panini announced they had run out of glue, and couldn’t be bothered ordering any more in to print off any more Ecuadorian stickers. The five stickers pictured are the only ones in circulation – the rest do not exist.

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HONDURAS

The Honduran Football Association caused a stir at the official unveiling of the team’s new kit, where it was announced that they would compete in the World Cup playing by the rules of baseball. All other teams in their group will observe the rules of football. In each match, the winner will be the team to score the most home runs.

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NIGERIA

Will this finally prove to be Shola Ameobi’s World Cup? No.

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Of course not.

GHANA

Ghana will expect to struggle in a tough group containing Germany, Portugal, USA and a truck full of bombs being driven by a man with no legs. However, they’re widely expected to have the Happiest Player award sewn up, thanks to Christian Atsu, whose face is absolutely delighted. What a lovely guy.

"Just really happy to be here, lads."

“Just really happy to be here, lads.”

 

USA

YOO-ESS-AY. YOO-ESS-AY, YOO-ESS-AY.

YOO-ESS-AY. YOO-ESS-AY, YOO-ESS-AY.

Team America’s hopes rest on goalkeeper Tim Howard’s attempts to confuse opposition strikers by wearing the same shirt as his outfield team-mates. Known as the ‘Anti-Campos’, this pioneering technique has already been derided by many of the game’s top pundits as total jobbies.

PREDICTIONS, EXPECTATIONS, DEMANDS

  • There will be a selection of light and dark horses.
  • World Cup history video montages must include the following footage: Marco Tardelli’s gaping maw, Gazza’s tears and that much-loved clip of Jurgen Klinsmann doing a jobby on a glass table while Lothar Matthaus lies beneath, pounding his parson.
  • Everyone will have a really good time.
  • Diana Ross to slam home a redemption penalty in the opening ceremony, with the Ex-Supreme’s celebration to be choreographed by Stuart Pearce.
  • Grown men crying.
  • England’s Raheem Sterling will be one of the stars of the tournament: one year from now he will join the Army.
  • ITV anchorgit Adrian Chiles will horrify a nation by buttering his guts prior to ad breaks.
  • FOOTBALL! (I will not budge on this)

RGSOAS GOLD

For further adventures in Panini, check out the Euro 2012 Ruud Gullit Drinking Game.

Expecting England to fail? Why not play England Bingo with your mates or parole officer? Or cheer yourself up with Baddiel and Skinner.

The RGSOAS Review of 2013

2013 will forever be remembered as the year that immediately preceded 2014. Memories of this year will be taken to the graves of those who died during it. But what about the rest of us? As we discard the inconsequential riff-raff, allow Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed to select the most enduring moments of the year, to be forever sealed within the amber of our collective consciousness, one day to be used to make some sort of crazy dinosaur theme park.

* Luis Suarez finally realised he’s a terrible man after a perspective-altering cancer scare, when mistaking a drumstick lolly he had left in his trouser pocket for a tumour. He sought to make amends for past sins by constantly eating at Nando’s and offering his ready-stamped loyalty cards to strangers. He owes his successes on the field this season to the surfeit of energy gained by eating peri-peri coleslaw each day.

Totally benign

Totally benign

* Bank manager face template and passing fetishist Xavi pursued a bizarre sideline as a noir detective in Xavi: Possession Cop. With Barcelona finally ceding their prestigious spot as everyone’s favourite football team, their midfield metronome changed careers in stylish fashion, devoting himself to romancing broads, lamenting his past mistakes and inscrutably fiddling with blinds in darkened rooms while sippin’ whiskey.

All possession. All cop.

All possession. All cop.

* A ball boy ended up in the news for failing to do his job. Eden Hazard’s poor attempt at Eric Cantona-style notoriety saw the Chelsea Belgian tamely toe-poke Swansea’s top Ball Circulation Operative, Charlie Morgan. The football world reacted with approximately 70% outrage and 30% amusement, otherwise known as ‘The Michael McIntrye Ratio’. The incident saw the dreadfully inept teen thrust ungainly into the world of minor celebrity, as lucrative offers of television work came his way. He was last seen being ejected from a branch of TK Maxx, for failing to return a Christmas gift properly.

Silly sausage

Silly sausage

* West Ham manager Sam Allardyce attempted to gloss over his club’s lack of strikers by singing the songs of A-Ha in a surprise concert. The rotund beast caused controversy during his Upton Park gig by not playing Take On Me. The shock omission served as adequate distraction, but ultimately caused unrest among supporters who love 80s nostalgia just as much as they love their dear ol’ mums.

Stupid man

Stupid man

* RGSOAS caused a stir by rooting through the bins of cuboid-headed spokesbloke Adrian Chiles, and discovered a notebook containing a collection of his horrible punchlines.

Unwarranted thumbs-up

Unwarranted thumbs-up

* Documentary film The Class of 92 offered some startling insights into the legendary batch of child prodigies that effectively kept Alex Ferguson and his wife in horse racing and dildos. Manchester United’s celebrated youth team told their stories armed with a montage of the 1990’s, which inevitably featured the two clips that every such 90’s montage always features – Noel Gallagher schmoozing at Downing Street and Tony Blair playing head tennis with Kevin Keegan. The film received glowing reviews, with the revelation that forgotten man Terry Cooke was actually one child sitting on the shoulders of another child all along stunning critics. However, most of the attention was attracted by the twist ending, which saw Nicky Butt ruthlessly massacre Eric Harrison’s extended family before turning the gun on himself, prompting Pele to demote him to his second favourite player of all time.

Senseless massacre

Senseless massacre

* Barry Plapp finally broke his silence on the role he plays in maintaining the posthumous legend of Brian Clough. In a revealing interview, he told Fisted Away how Clough’s widow Barbara pays him to devise fresh anecdotes about the formerly-witty, now-dead football management personality.

Nobody ever says fuck you.

Nobody ever says fuck you.

* The twin worlds of football and Guy Ritchie films were saddened to hear of the news that Vinnie Jones had developed cancer. However, in another shocking career reinvention, Jones was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for finding a cure for the notorious illness and reason for 60% of charity fun runs. In his disturbingly graphic acceptance speech, he revealed that he “simply squeezed the very bollocks” of the dastardly Nan-thief. It is not yet known whether his discovery will earn him a place in the celebrity section of WWE’s next Hall of Fame.

Jones gets sent off at WWF Capital Carnage. Not even a joke.

Jones gets sent off at WWF Capital Carnage. Not even a joke.